Nuclear magnetic resonance techniques have advanced to the point where functional, physiologic, and biochemical information may be obtained from patients. Magnetic resonance imaging of tissue water can be used to measure perfusion and diffusion with submillimeter resolution. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy may be applied to the assessment of tissue metabolites that contain protons, phosphorus, fluorine, or other nuclei. The combination of imaging and spectroscopy technologies has lead to spectroscopic imaging techniques that are capable of mapping proton metabolites at resolutions as small as 0.25 cm3 within the time constraints of a clinical imaging study. This article provides a brief review of magnetic resonance techniques for imaging of tissue physiological function and addresses possible applications in the realm of radiation oncology.
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